Thursday, March 27, 2014

Spring Crappies at Spruce Run Reservoir

For shore access, nothing seems to beat the jetty beyond the car lot off Van Syckles Road, but if you have a boat, you might find crappies near the mouth of the Mulhockaway. I know early spring northern pike come to creek mouths entering the reservoir, drawn to flows for spawning. They don't go up into the creeks, or very rarely do, but I got news of a three footer in a little creek in Verona, off the Passaic. But why crappies swarm in these two areas, I don't know, besides that they go shallow previous to spawning and the water is warmer in thin water, especially in the evening after a sudden rise in daytime temperature.

They're not always there. My son and I, and a number of friends, fished the jetty, as well as the Black Brook cove, between 2005 and last year during late March and April. Of all those many outings, well over a dozen total, we really only ran into crappies twice. Both times the water temperature had suddenly spiked with a newly arrived warm spell. I also saw a crappie at least as big as the photographed caught well into May at the jetty. I caught another that measured 15 inches and weighed 2 pounds, 3 ounces. Most are about a foot long, good crappies. I've heard of 17-inchers caught in Spruce Run Reservoir.

The jetty gets lots of fishing pressure, both during the week and on weekends. But this is a 1200 plus acre reservoir. The fish move in and out. Just like the fishermen. It seems we've met new people every time we've visited here. I've often wondered how exactly the fish do. I've seen this area when the reservoir level was down 10 or 12 feet. There's not much of a well defined channel from the original Spruce Run Creek at all. It's flat out there beyond the jetty tip. But fish find it, the little cove, and creek mouth. And they come and go. I imagine rocket bass, more widely known as hybrid striped bass, move in out with cavalier swiftness. The crappies seemingly float in like balloons and hang out a while. All of ours have been caught on large shiners. Not the two to three inch medium variety, but full sized pike shiners. I use a plain shank, size 6 hook, no weight. I do use a fluorocarbon 15 pound leader tied to a small barrel swivel. The chance of catching a pike may be greater. More likely, that is. And who would deny a great northern pike? A lot of people like crappies, though. And Spruce Run has big ones.